May 16th, 2005


Surprise Alarm in a Corolla

Last Monday, when I was driving from San Jose airport to Milpitas, I had my laptop on the passenger seat of my rented Toyota Corolla, where it was trying to boot so I could check to find out where I'd booked my hotel. I had waited for it to boot and bring up Outlook for several minutes at the Hertz lot, and finally decided to drive on into town and deal with it at dinner. As I exit I-880 at the 237 exit, I pulled my backpack from the floor onto the seat in preparation for getting to my dinner destination. A moment later, a loud bell starts going off in the passenger compartment. This sounds bad -- the car's trying to tell me something is seriously wrong! I make my way though the lights and start looking for any sort of indicator, and the only thing I can see that's lit is the "passenger airbag" light. What's happening? Is it about to deploy? Will it leak deadly gas? Then I realize that this must be one of those cars that have weight sensors in the passenger seat, and by moving my bag, I added enough weight to the seat to make it think that the airbag needed to be enabled, when it currently had been disabled. I push my bag back onto the floor, the beeping stops, and I make it onward to Pasta Pomodoro where I had a nice tomato salad.

Book to Read: Persepolis

At dinner tonight, I finished Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel "Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood". This is a really touching work about growing up as a young teenage girl in Iran during the revolution of 1979 and subsequent Iran-Iraq war. It's funny, poignant, and occasionally very sad, and it gave me a very different perspective on life in Iranian society and how much it changed during those years. The art style is bold, full of black and white contrast, some fantasy sequences, and lots of great facial expressions. It reminds me of Andi Watson's work, although on a smaller scale. This story really works well in this form; there is enough text to convey the subtleties, but the drawings do a great job of representing a child's perspective. The author has written several other graphic novels, including a sequel, "Persepolis 2" where she returns to Iran as an adult, and "Embroideries", a collection of stories about the lives of Iranian women. I look forward to reading those in the near future.